U Wernery

Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, Dubai, Dubayy, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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Publications (5)9.55 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: While previous studies have demonstrated an association between equine grass sickness (EGS) and the presence of Clostridium botulinum within ileal contents and faeces, no such associations with other intestinal-derived anaerobic bacteria have been extensively investigated. The prevalence of C. perfringens in the ileal contents and faeces of EGS horses is greater than control horses; the detection of C. perfringens in faeces by ELISA could be diagnostically beneficial in a clinical setting. The prevalence of C. perfringens in faeces from EGS horses and healthy grazing control horses was determined by both selective culture and ELISA to permit both validation of the ELISA and inter-group comparisons. Additionally, the prevalence of C. perfringens (ELISA) in ileal contents from EGS horses was compared with that for control horses with nongastrointestinal disease. Finally, the prevalence of C. perfringens (ELISA) in faeces from EGS cases was compared with that from both horses with which they shared pasture at the time of disease onset and non-EGS colic horses. When compared with culture, the ELISA had a sensitivity and specificity of 86 and 98%, respectively. The prevalence of C. perfringens in faeces as determined by both culture and ELISA was significantly higher (P<0.001) for EGS horses (7/9 and 15/37, respectively) than for healthy grazing controls (0/60 and 1/74, respectively). The prevalence of C. perfringens in ileal contents from EGS horses (5/10) was greater than that for horses with nongastrointestinal disease (1/12) at a level that approached significance (P = 0.056). EGS cases had a significantly greater prevalence of C. perfringens in faeces (15/37) than co-grazing horses (1/18) and colic (1/16) horses. The specificity (93%) and PPV (94%) of the detection of C. perfringens by ELISA on faecal samples in relation to disease status (EGS compared with colic horses) was good. Sensitivity (41%) and NPV (39%) were poor. The use of a commercial ELISA to detect faecal C. perfringens may be diagnostically beneficial when differentiating EGS cases from colic cases, although further work is required to fully evaluate its potential.
    Equine Veterinary Journal 09/2010; 42(6):494-9. · 2.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It has been proposed that synaptophysin, an abundant integral membrane protein of synaptic vesicles, is an immunohistochemical marker for degenerating neurons in equine grass sickness (GS). In the present study, a statistically generated decision tree based on assessment of synaptophysin-immunolabelled ileal sections facilitated correct differentiation of all 20 cases of GS and 24 cases of non-GS disease (comprising eight horses with colic, six with neuroparalytic botulism and 10 controls). This technique also facilitated correct diagnosis of GS in all three cases that had been erroneously classified as having non-GS disease based on conventional interpretation of haematoxylin and eosin-stained cryostat sections of ileal surgical biopsies. Further prospective studies involving larger numbers of horses are required to fully validate this decision tree. In contrast to GS, botulism did not alter ileal neuron density or synaptophysin labelling, indicating that different mechanisms cause neuronal damage and/or dysfunction in GS and botulism.
    Journal of comparative pathology 05/2010; 142(4):284-90. · 1.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is much evidence to suggest that group III Clostridium botulinum (types C and D) are involved in the aetiology of equine grass sickness (EGS). Antibodies have been detected previously in the blood and high levels associated with resistance to disease. Specific mucosal antibodies in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract are likely to be important in protection, and this study was performed to ascertain if such antibodies could be detected and if their levels were related to disease state. To develop a method for quantifying IgA antibodies to C. botulinum types C and D in the GI tract of horses and to relate antibody levels to disease status. Samples of tissue (n = 25: 6 duodenum, 7 jejunum and 12 ileum) were taken from acute grass sickness (AGS) cases and from control horses (n = 12; 4 samples from each site) at post mortem. They were extracted with the detergent saponin in the presence of protease inhibitors and assayed for total IgA, for specific IgA against botulinum neurotoxins types C and D (BoNT/C or BoNT/D), and against surface antigens of a BoNT/C negative strain of C. botulinum type C (SA) and of Clostridium tetani (TetSA), as a control. Specific IgA was expressed as percentage total IgA. Compared to controls, significantly higher levels of specific IgA against BoNT/C were detected in the jejunum (P = 0.04) and ileum (P = 0.02) of AGS cases. Similarly, higher specific levels against BoNT/D were demonstrated in duodenum (P = 0.01) and jejunum (P = 0.02). Significantly higher levels of IgA against SA were demonstrated only in duodenal samples (P = 0.01). Levels of IgA antibody to BoNTs in control horses were at near undetectable levels, suggesting no recent exposure to toxins. In AGS cases, significantly higher levels of specific IgA were detected predominantly in jejunum and ileum. If specific IgA is protective then any successful vaccine for EGS should induce a mucosal response.
    Equine Veterinary Journal 10/2007; 39(5):457-60. · 2.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Serum from 12 horses suffering from chronic grass sickness (CGS) were assayed for IgG antibodies against botulinum neurotoxins C and D (BoNT/C and BoNT/D) and to a surface antigen extract of a neurotoxin negative strain of Clostridium botulinum type C. Collectively, the six surviving CGS cases demonstrated significantly higher initial IgG levels (P=0.05) against surface antigens than the six that were subsequently euthanased. The surviving animals also demonstrated higher initial IgG levels against the BoNT/C but not reaching significance (P=0.06). The two groups demonstrated no difference between IgG levels against BoNT/D. This study supports existing evidence of the involvement of C. botulinum type C in the aetiology of grass sickness.
    Research in Veterinary Science 09/2007; 83(1):82-4. · 1.77 Impact Factor
  • H Böhnel, U Wernery, F Gessler
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    ABSTRACT: Botulism is caused by different types of Clostridium botulinum, a soil bacterium. Equine grass sickness (equine dysautonomia) is suspected of being a clinical form of this disease. On a stud where this disease occurred twice within 8 months, grass and soil samples and necropsy specimens of one horse were tested for the presence of bacterial forms and toxin of C. botulinum. Different types and type mixtures (A-E) of C. botulinum and botulinum neurotoxin were found. For the first time, it has been shown that green grass blades contain botulinum toxin. The results support the hypothesis that equine grass sickness is a clinical form of botulism, a soil-borne disease.
    Journal of Veterinary Medicine Series B 06/2003; 50(4):178-82. · 1.48 Impact Factor